Adventures in Humility

News, Views, and Chews on spiritual issues.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Cardiff Realisations

When I visited the temple on Thursday for Balarama's Birthday, I noticed a sign-up sheet on the temple noticeboard; they were inviting one and all to join them in a trip to Cardiff to attend the first every Ratha-yatra there. How could I say no, especially when the transport was free too?

So there I was, standing in the morning chill at 7am waiting for the coach. Anyway, to cut a long story short, the Ratha-yatra went off very well. Holding it for the first time ever, it was understandably a small-scale affair compared to the pomp of the London event, but was very well implemented nevertheless. It was nice to witness history being made. There was even a black (Rastafarian?) guy with long dreadlocks shouting at us and the procession. I heard later that he was denouncing idolatry and asking (shouting) that we should accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour! The police escorts dealt with him...
It was also nice to have Hari Sauri das with us, as well as Mahavishnu (younger) and Bhakti Vidya Purna Swamis. HSd did not talk much but it was interesting to be in the presence of a Parabhupada stalwart. Anyway..

On the way back, I was having some interesting realisations which I will try to describe here. I was thinking how all throughout the day from morning onwards, I had been chanting the mahamantra within my mind, if not on my mala. I have noticed this peculiar occurrence quite frequently, and it always happens when I am in close proximity with the devotees or to the temple. I concluded that because of the constant chanting performed by the temple inhabitants, the whole premises had been sufficiently sanctified so that sensitive persons can pick up the 'vibes'. This is true because this always happens whenever I arrive at the temple. This is the power of Harinam.

And it works with close proximity with devotees too. Whenever I am in their association, I find that I spontaneously start remembering the Harinam and chanting within my mind. So I was realising all of those edicts in shastras about how sadhu-sanga is very important for us and to maintain our bhakti. Something powerful is at work because of their constant chanting of Harinam, attentive or not.

yAGhAra darzane mukhe Aise kRSNa-nAma
tAGhAra jAniha tumi 'vaiSNava-pradhAna'

[Sriman Mahaprabhu said:] He, by whose darshan the name of Krishna automatically arises
in your mouth, you should know him to be a chief of Vaishnavas.
(Caitanya CaritAmRta 2.16)

This verse came to my mind when I was thinking these things. And then I sighed a long sigh when I think of all those silly debates on GD about how IGM have no "power" due to Sri Bhaktisiddhanta's having no diksa and so on. Really,who cares? The last debate lasted more than 20 pages, and for what?

I am not undermining the importance of taking diksa, but the simple fact remains is that these are Vaishnavas whose mere presence or sight makes the name of Krsna arise on the tongue. And I hardly spoke with any of them, I only know the names of one or two, so it was by their presence that the inspiration to chant Harinam was arising within my mind. Why not be generous and give them credit where credit is due? In that last 20+page debate, I thought that perhaps only Lalitadasji showed the most maturity of all. He was asked for his opinion on Sri Bhaktisiddhanta, and his reply shocked me. It was along the lines of "I don't care about all the controversy, he is a Vaishnava who chants the holy name and that's enough for me, so I show him respect". I was very impressed. I was so surprised, but very impressed. Here is somebody who has actually understood Vaishnava culture and is making an effort to practice what he preaches. For all the guff, it appears that there are few who show enough maturity to have their opinions weigh in on whatever debate has arisen.

Whatever the controversies may be there with IGM, they are still Vaishnavas who are chanting the most sacred collection of Names. I feel ashamed to be in their presence, a filthy toad like me. I am almost envious of their spiritual strength. I feel that my spiritual practices have slackened with time due to other external and emotional pressures, so who am I to point any fingers?

There is so much more to say as I was realising all of this with greater eloquency and more points to make, but I believe that I have covered most of the general points. One of the things that appalls me is that lack of Vaishnava culture and manners, both online and offline. I thus realise that I cannot point fingers at anyone, even if my own personal behaviour is in order as that would violate Siksastaka 3. It is enough for me if I gain the association of correct devotees (like Lalitadasji for example) and learn from them how to view the world and all the people with all their faults with due respect, bowing down to all who chant to Holy Name. Divisions of respect are there à la Rupa Gosvami's Upadesamrta 5 of course, but the point remains that respect mush be given to all Vaishnavas. And not just Vaishnavas, as Siksastaka 3 applies to all also.


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